Something happens in your business. A fire, if you will. An emergency that makes you jump in and fix it immediately.

Okay, you put out the fire, problem solved. That is great for the moment, but what happens when it happens again? And again?

This situation happens all to often in our business, and in our lives. We are on the hamster wheel of emergencies and fires, running from fire to fire in an attempt to quell the chaos.

You do this so much, you start to take pride in being a “professional firefighter.”

But, what if you stopped being a firefighter and started being a fire preventer?

Here is a quick story on how being a fire preventer can save you hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars (instantly).

In his book, Onward, Howard Schultz (Founder of Starbucks) says,

“Fixing moments, like mopping a dirty floor, only provides short-term satisfaction. But take the time to understand the cause of the problem — like how to keep a floor from getting so dirty in the first place — solves, and maybe eliminates, a problem.”

While Schultz was visiting stores across the country (as he frequently does) he stopped into one to work with the manager for the day.

He noticed that one of the teammates kept mopping the floor in front of the counter.

This is unusual as the store usually only needs to be mopped at night and if there are any spills.

When he asked the manager what was up, he was told that that section of the store frequently gets dirty and wet so they have to mop it about 5 times a day.

Schultz asked how long this has been going on. The manager said for some years.

The manager seemed to not think it was a big deal.

But Schultz thought differently.

If an employee is mopping a floor (which takes him away from his job for 15 minutes) 5 times a day, that is an hour and 15 minutes a day wasted.

That is 456 hours a year that they are paying an employee to MOP A FLOOR!

That is someone mopping a floor full time for 11 months. . .

Schultz stopped this quickly, figured out the cause of the problem, and in a day got the store back to mopping only 2 times a day

This is systems thinking at its finest!

This is the difference between a firefighter and a fire preventer!

If you are putting out fires all day, you can never grow your business or elevate your life.

So stop fixing moments (mopping the floor) and start solving for problems. You just may find that you like preventing fires more than fighting them.


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